Lonnie Wheatley Photo
On Top of the World: Windom Returns to USAC Midget Point Lead with Western World Win
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 13, 2021)………Time and time again, it seems when Chris Windom is against the proverbial ropes, he’s able to fight his way out of the corner, dig in and find something within himself that elevates him to another level, especially when it comes to “winning time” in the latter part of the year.
The Canton, Ill. native and USAC Triple Crown champion found himself in a similar position once more during Saturday night’s 54th annual Western World Championships finale at Arizona Speedway.
One night after seeing his 13-point advantage vanish in the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship standings, the reigning series titlist rose to the occasion and put his CB Industries/NOS Energy Drink – PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota back in victory lane for the seventh time this season, equaling Tanner Thorson as the winningest driver with the series thus far in 2021.
Windom’s performance also elevated him back to the top of the standings by the same exact margin he came into the weekend with, 13, with the final seven races of the year in California taking place over the next couple of weeks.
“We’re in a championship battle here, so it makes it even sweeter,” Windom acknowledged of his 13th career series victory, which tied Steve Knepper, Don Meacham, Ryan Newman and Stevie Reeves for 53rd all-time. “But (team owner) Chad (Boat) and I want to win races too. This is our seventh USAC win this year, so that’s pretty cool. That’s what we’re here for; we want to win a championship and we want to win as many races as possible. We had a lot of smack talkers after we won the championship last year, so I’d like to shut them up and go win another one.”
Windom’s performance the night before was one that just didn’t quite satisfy himself or the team, especially in a championship fight when every single inch and every single yard becomes of utmost importance, and a victory is as satisfying as it gets, no matter how you slice it.
“Any time you can get a win, it’s a big momentum swing,” Windom admitted. “I was frustrated after running sixth last night. To come here and back it up with a win is a testament to all these guys. All these guys on CB Industries gave me such a good racecar.”
Windom fired off from the outside of the front row for the start of the $4,000-to-win, 30-lap main event, immediately finding a jewel of a line early on. Diamonding from top on entry to the bottom off exit, Windom stepped away from the rest of the field to the tune of 2.757 seconds in the first third of the event until the margin was erased by a yellow flag for 22nd running Kevin Woody Jr. who spun backward in turn one but returned to finish 18th.
Under yellow, 20th running Chase Randall also pulled to the infield work area. Randall started the feature 23rd in a backup Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports machine after damaging the primary via rear-end contact with the turn one outside wall in his heat race. Randall restarted and took the backup all the way to a 9th place finish, earning both KSE Racing Product Hard Charger honors and the GSP Quality Driving Performance of the Race.
Upon resumption on the 11th lap, Windom found beside him a challenger in Zach Daum, who pulled even with the leader at the exit of turn two. Daum’s initial charge was short-lived, for the time being, as 8th running Tanner Thorson, the defending Western World Midget winner, slowed to bring out the caution. After a brief foray in the work area, Thorson returned, then promptly drove from the back of the pack to finish 6th.
For the five successive laps following the stoppage, Daum proved to be a thorn in Windom’s side, pulling ahead to the lead briefly at the exit of turns two and four each lap until Windom blew by with the momentum firmly in hand, subsequently slamming the door on Daum and regaining all of his battleground on the straightaways.
Windom successfully staved off Daum’s advances throughout the mid-section of the event with Daum’s pursuit of a first USAC National Midget feature victory since 2014 going up in a cloud of smoke just 10 laps from the finish, relegating the Pocahontas, Ill. driver back to a disappointing 21st place finish in the final rundown.
Cannon McIntosh assumed the second position and mimicked Windom’s line around the 1/3-mile dirt oval, but Windom was near perfect down the stretch, a run that was interrupted only by 4th place running Kevin Thomas Jr.’s mechanical demise on lap 22.
There was no answer for Windom, leaving no question to the final result on this evening as the laps waned during the final USAC National Midget event at the venue before its closure later this month. Despite being comfortably in control from an outside vantage point, Windom took preventative measures into his own hands and switched lanes while constructing an eight-car-length lead.
“It felt like the track moved around a little bit,” Windom pointed out. “It felt like I was slowing down quite a bit down there in one and two toward the end. I kind of changed my line a little bit and moved to the bottom, and it was kind of sketchy in three and four.”
Unfettered and untouched, Windom glided to victory once again at the San Tan Valley, Ariz. track by a 2.015 second margin to earn his third career Western World final night triumph after previously capturing a USAC National Sprint Car victory in 2016 and a USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Car score in 2017.
Windom was followed to the line by Cannon McIntosh in second with Thomas Meseraull third, Tanner Carrick fourth and Buddy Kofoid fifth.
McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) had his throttle hung wide open for practically the entire second half of the feature but managed to race to his best result since the Indiana Midget Week opener at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway on June 3, scoring a second-place finish at Arizona in his Dave Mac Motorsports/DriveWFX.com – D.A. McIntosh – Smith Titanium/Spike/Speedway Toyota. Earlier in the evening, McIntosh recorded his second consecutive fast time during Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying.
Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) took a solid third-place finish in the midget feature and was the only driver to finish inside the top-ten in both the midget and sprint car main events on Saturday night, the latter of which he finished fourth in. Meseraull delivered with a fine performance in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota, which came 24 hours following a 13th place finish the night before.
The most serious accident of the night occurred during the third heat race when Daison Pursley was involved in a vicious flip at the entrance to the the high side of turn three while battling for fourth alongside Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, Buddy Kofoid. After several flips and somersaults, Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) was removed from the car and transported to an area hospital for further observation. Initial reports from the scene were that Pursley was awake and alert.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 13, 2021 – Arizona Speedway – San Tan Valley, Arizona – 1/3-Mile Dirt Oval – 54th Western World Championships Presented by San Tan Ford
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-15.264; 2. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.299; 3. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-15.335; 4. Zach Daum, 9m, Bundy Built-15.336; 5. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-15.357; 6. Cory Eliason, 26, Rudeen-15.404; 7. Tanner Carrick, 97K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.409; 8. Jade Avedisian, 84, CBI-15.445; 9. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.455; 10. Chase Randall, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-15.470; 11. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5, Petry-15.472; 12. Daison Pursley, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.491; 13. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.516; 14. Chance Crum, 26R, Rudeen-15.569; 15. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.578; 16. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-15.583; 17. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-15.587; 18. Tanner Thorson, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-15.587; 19. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-15.590; 20. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-15.655; 21. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.870; 22. Trevor Casey, 00, Mounce/Stout-16.007; 23. Kevin Woody Jr., 10, Dave Mac-16.426; 24. Jim Vanzant, 3v, Vanzant-17.493.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Tanner Carrick, 3. Zach Daum, 4. Cannon McIntosh, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Brenham Crouch, 7. Trevor Casey, 8. Chase Randall. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Emerson Axsom, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Jade Avedisian, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Taylor Reimer, 6. Chance Crum, 7. Ethan Mitchell, 8. Kevin Woody Jr. 2:06.40
INDY METAL FINISHING / INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Buddy Kofoid, 4. Bryant Wiedeman, 5. Kaylee Bryson, 6. Cory Eliason, 7. Jim Vanzant, 8. Daison Pursley. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (2), 2. Cannon McIntosh (6), 3. Thomas Meseraull (7), 4. Tanner Carrick (1), 5. Buddy Kofoid (11), 6. Tanner Thorson (12), 7. Justin Grant (17), 8. Logan Seavey (4), 9. Chase Randall (23), 10. Cory Eliason (9), 11. Bryant Wiedeman (16), 12. Emerson Axsom (8), 13. Kaylee Bryson (19), 14. Chance Crum (15), 15. Brenham Crouch (14), 16. Jade Avedisian (10), 17. Taylor Reimer (5), 18. Kevin Woody Jr. (21), 19. Trevor Casey (20), 20. Kevin Thomas Jr. (13), 21. Zach Daum (3), 22. Ethan Mitchell (18), 23. Jim Vanzant (22). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Chris Windom.
**Daison Pursley flipped during the third heat.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-2138, 2-Buddy Kofoid-2125, 3-Tanner Thorson-1942, 4-Justin Grant-1926, 5-Emerson Axsom-1918, 6-Daison Pursley-1893, 7-Logan Seavey-1814, 8-Thomas Meseraull-1742, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1699, 10-Cannon McIntosh-1537.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-198, 2-Justin Grant-186, 3-Tanner Thorson-183, 4-Brady Bacon-160, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-147, 6-Thomas Meseraull-144, 7-Logan Seavey-140, 8-Robert Ballou-131, 9-Shane Cottle-106, 10-Buddy Kofoid-100.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: November 16, 2021 – Bakersfield Speedway – Bakersfield, California – 1/3-Mile Dirt Oval – November Classic
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Chase Randall
Fatheadz Fast Qualifier: Cannon McIntosh
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Thomas Meseraull
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Emerson Axsom
Indy Metal Finishing / Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner: Tanner Thorson
KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Chase Randall (23rd to 9th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Kaylee Bryson